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It’s hard to believe that another year has come and gone. Roberta said several times that she was glad the year was over. I’m not so sure myself. With John dying so late in the year, I don’t think I’m ready to say “That was last year” yet.  There are a lot of things I’m not ready to do or face yet. I’m sure that I’ll be writing like I’m a schitzophrinic for a while. I’ll write about daily life and what’s happening in the world and then, woof, back to chatting about John for a bit.

 I haven’t written about his funeral yet. I think I’m going to try and do that now. Just some of the highlights really. Like any memorial service there were good and bad impressions. I’ll try and share a few.

When we arrived down in Tampa Roberta and I rented a Chevy HHR from Hertz to drive for the week. Renting the car wasn’t bad, pretty normal, but the HHR itself, well, what a piece of crap. It’s nothing more than a cheap version of the PT Cruiser. We rented it because it would seat 5, we could drive people around, ya, five midgets from the circus maybe. 4 Adults semi comfortably. Oh well, it got us around.

The services were pretty straight forward. They had John’s brother Jared speak, myself, and Jeff Walker from his group currently in Iraq.  Jeff was the only one that really got through what he wanted to say. Jared and I didn’t do so well, it was pretty tough. Thank goodness for Jeff. By the way, Jeff and Inge his wife are two of the nicest folk you’ll ever meet.

Jeff and Inge reading John's last letter

Here they are reading John’s last letter home.

 The Church where we had the services was very nice. It was a large Catholic church that had room to seat everyone. We had the services there not because John was Catholic, he wasn’t, but because it was large enough. I’ll give a side note about that in a bit. There were about 200+ people attending the services, about 20 or so reporters and newspeople there, 4 news trucks, and about 90 or so Patriot Guard Riders, and 4 protesters. Yep protesters. I’ll do a seperate write up on that.

The Patriot Guard Riders

 The protesters are behind the PGR across the street.

Gee can’t see them.

The services included a Brigadeer General (one star), a Major, and a handfull of other soldiers. The most notable of whom was a Sergeant by the name of Middleton. Middleton was with John on tour 2 and he drove down from Ft. Sill Oklahoma the day before the funeral and drove home the day after. 20 hours of solid driving each direction. That act alone really hit the family hard. The fact that he would do that to be there with us when we said good bye to John. We were so glad that he was part of the services, watching him try to stay calm while handing Charlene John’s flag, that was a hard moment for all of us. Two wives from his current team in Iraq came down because their husbands couldn’t, about 10 soldiers from Ft. Stewart drove down to be there with us. Then they had the honor guard from the National Guard there to do the 21 gun salute. By the way, sitting in a church, trying to honor your dead friend, then having them play taps. That will be one of the hardest moments of a persons life. Taps will rip your heart out, period.

Over all the services went really well. It was one of the saddest moments of my life. But it was also good. We all had an opportunity to get together and talk about our times with John. I learned things from some of his buddies that he never told me. I got the chance to share some stories that I’m sure John never told them. (-: It was a good experience in it’s way.


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January 2007
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